If we only knew
There are few things in stereo reproduction as important as setup: how well your speakers are positioned, how accepting your room is, the choices you’ve made in placement.
I can’t count the number of times I have been able to wring a higher level of performance from what was thought to be a mediocre group of products by simply rearranging the setup. Or, how often folks reject a new product because it doesn’t fit into an already established concoction of kit.
If we only knew the importance of setup we would get far more benefit out of the electronics, cables, and loudspeakers that grace our homes.
One of the problems we have is believing our setups are perfect for a given space when what’s actually true is they are optimized for the components that make them up at the time of installation and subsequent tweaks.
Change a component, change the setup.
If we only knew the true value of the setup we’d likely be making far different choices.
The next time you try a new piece in your audio or video system’s puzzle, consider the setup.
It may be the single most critical component in your audio chain.
The importance of stands
Bookshelf speakers are not what their name implies. Sure, they can be placed in a bookshelf or cabinet, but that doesn’t mean they’re designed to operate at their best amongst the books.
No, the oddly named small two-way loudspeakers are, like any speaker, heard best when away from the confines of boundary walls and cabinet restrictions. Place them atop a credenza and they work fine but you’re going to affect the tonal balance of the speaker—not as much as on a bookshelf, but none the less, anything but optimal.
It’s no accident that bookshelf speakers sound their best mounted on a stand. That’s because a properly designed loudspeaker stand pulls the small box speaker away from walls, floors, and their namesake, bookshelves.
The type of stand you use is also important, and in ways easy to remember if you’ll recall the problem of boundaries: stands should be as physically invisible as possible. That’s somewhat of a tall order when we also hope stands are rigid, unmoving and acoustically dead—attributes normally associated with high mass objects.
Many speaker stands are hollow with the expectations users will fill them with lead shot or sand and that’s a good way to go. Others sacrifice acoustic inertness for invisibility using the least amount of material possible.
It’s hard to underate the importance of stands when it comes to maximizing the performance of a bookshelf speaker.
Perhaps we should change their name to Stand Mount Speakers.